An assault on free speech
WHEN is a security threat a security threat? South Africans could well ponder this question given that in the past week it has become apparent that many of the so-called threats conjured up by politicians and officials in the security cluster come from nothing more than paranoia.
A week ago, Parliament’s joint standing commit-
tee on intelligence listed among the reasons for the R206 million spent on President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla exaggerated threats of earthquakes and problematic chicken coops, violent crime and political tensions.
Now the ministers in the cluster say South Africans should desist from publishing pictures
that may reveal security details at Zuma’s upgraded homestead. This, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele says, is against the law of the land. But, at the moment, the ministers are “asking nicely” that people no longer publish such pictures.
The South African Editors’ Forum has pointed out that people take pictures of national key points
all the time. The Union Buildings, for example, is a national key point. So, too, is Parliament.
The demand comes in the same week the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, said the November 8 at- tempt to interdict her, which was initiated by the security cluster, was an attempt to tinker with the independence of her office because they wanted to vet her
Nkandla report. This, she said, was at odds with the constitution which gave her “unfettered power” to investigate government malfeasance.
The before and after pictures of the Nkandla up- grade are dramatic. The truth is that there has been no credible explanation for the enormous amount of money spent on Zuma’s private home and surrounds.
The only reason the security cluster is “asking nicely” that the media no longer publish the pictures is because they are a stark reminder of this fact. This, like the public protector’s interdict at-
tempt, is an attempt to mute free speech.